By Amanda Gluckich – Milk and Honey Farm – Boulder, CO In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Ha’Azinu, we learn that the people of Israel, who have been wandering the desert for forty years after leaving Egypt, are about to enter the Holy Land that has been promised to them by God. Moses, who is not allowed to continue into the Holy Land due to previous transgressions, is preparing to sing a song to the people of Israel. The Torah portion, or parsha, is virtually entirely made up of song verses. Moses’s song speaks of the intergenerational tragedies and triumphs of the people of Israel, and even articulates the future to some degree. Moses sings of the people of Israel’s many struggles to accept one God, and of all of the things that God has done for them throughout the generations. Moses’s song brings everyone together and up to speed to explain why they are currently in the place they are in: about to be metaphorically born into the Land of Israel, promised to them by God. Moses begins: “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! And let the earth hear the words of my mouth!” (Deut. 32:1). When reading […]
Across the country, over forty Jewish organizations are committing to making a better world through the Hazon Seal of Sustainability. Local papers nationwide have highlighted Seal organization’s innovative sustainability initiatives. Read on for stories about planting of paw paw trees, building chicken mansions, urban farming initiatives, and more! “Going Green,” Hillel News, 26 May 2017 “Shaarey Zedek, B’nai Moshe and Hazon partner to provide organic produce,” Detroit Jewish News, 16 June 2017 “Hazon Seal, Louisville Grows grant to be parts of J’s enhanced sustainability,” Jewish Louisville, 26 May 2017 “Congregation Bonai Shalom Awarded 2016 Hazon Seal of Sustainability,” Boulder Jewish News, 3 May 2017 “Emanuel Synagogue Green Team launches new sustainability initiatives,” West Hartford News, 26 April 2017
Ryan Kaplan, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Parshat Chukat “Moses made a copper serpent and mounted it on a standard; and when anyone was bitten by a serpent, they would look at the copper serpent and recover.” Numbers 21:9 As I write this post, I sit in my office in Atlanta with the threat of rain clouds to my left and blueberry waffles, coffee, and a coworker’s copy of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) to my right. Georgia’s summer has been very wet thus far, and the promise of the coming downpour outside my window sets a looming melancholic tone for this week’s cinematic Torah portion: Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1). Much happens in the chapters of Chukat. In the interest of brevity: The wandering Israelites are taught in “the ways of the red heifer” (that is to say, they’re told how to purify themselves after coming into contact with a human corpse); Miriam dies and water becomes scarce; Moses and Aaron fall out of G-d’s good graces after striking a rock in search of water instead of speaking to it; Aaron follows Miriam in death and a 30 day period of mourning begins (up from the normal 7 days of Shiva); a […]
Parsha Behar By: Emily Blustein – Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta – Atlanta, GA Rest for the land, rest for the people, all will be provided. This week we are reading Behar which tells us about shmitah and jubilee. Shmitah is during every seventh year, you shall not work the land, and Jubilee which is the 49th year where shmitah is practiced along with setting all slaves free and all land goes back to its original owners. G-d reassures the people that they have nothing to worry about during shmitah as the 6th year of growing will produce more than enough until the 8th years yield is ready. That’s putting a lot of faith in powers other than your own hard work. What did the farmers do during the 7th year? Did they enjoy or lament it? As I have been dabbling in farming, the thought of not being able to grow food for myself and others for a whole year is a bit unsettling. Truly, if everyone practiced this, what would be there to eat? Or were we all on different shmitah schedules? Maybe my neighbor is only in their 5th year when I’m in my 7th and […]
Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, MI is setting the bar for sustainability high with their excellent work as a member of the Hazon Seal of Sustainability Cohort 2016! Between planning their first Green Kiddush, to using only glass mugs and recyclable paper products at events, there seems to be no limit on what they can achieve. After completing the Hazon Seal Audit, the Green Team at Shaarey Zedek immediately replaced all Styrofoam cups in the Berman Center of Education with glass cups that the congregation had in storage. They also made sure that the congregation’s clergy team spoke about the Green Team and its work during a Shabbat sermon, to get everyone excited about greening and increase awareness of the important work the Green Team does. Shaarey Zedek’s Green Kiddush and Tu B’shvat Seder on the Shabbat of Tu B’shvat was also well-received. Wren Beaulieu-Hack – Director of the Berman Center for Jewish Education at Shaarey Zedek – says that “The day we spent celebrating Tu B’Shvat, as a community was the most successful project we’ve completed thus far. It was wonderful to see our congregants talking with each other about environmental issues through a Jewish lens and to see […]
Becky Adelberg, JCC Chicago Parshat Re’eh Editor’s Note: Welcome to D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog! This is our inaugural post. Most weeks throughout the year, you’ll be hearing from the JOFEE Fellows: reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. Be sure to check back weekly! PS Interested in being or hosting a JOFEE Fellow? Applications for cohort two are now open for both prospective fellows and prospective host institutions! And now, on to Becky’s post … I’m thrilled for this opportunity to write about one of my favorite events of the year: Shabbat on the Lake. To me, Shabbat on the Lake is more than an event. It is a mindset, a movement, a gathering of all corners of the Jewish community; it’s a tapestry of various affiliations, ways of engaging with Judaism and the possibility of a Jewish community who focuses on things that unite us as opposed to what divides us. Shabbat on the Lake’s inception at JCC Chicago arose six years ago to show young Jewish adults various ways […]
The New Paradigm Spiritual Communities Initiative (NPSCI) is designed to support the development of spiritual communities that use the wisdom and practice of Judaism (chochma), to help people live lives of sacred purpose (kedusha) and inspire people to contribute to a more just and peaceful world (tzedek). The context for this work are covenantal communities (kehillot) where a group of people intentionally enter into a mutual obligatory relationship in which they commit to a common mission and give of their time and psychic energy to support the viability of the group and the material and spiritual needs of the members of the group. Hazon is a founding partner of NPSCI, which recently launched a new website, and was featured today in a cover story in the New York Jewish Week: Make Way For ‘Earthodoxy’ – A new effort to support spiritual communities is fueled by those on the communal fringes. The new website includes short essays on how participants are building spiritual community. And starting April 11th, a weekly blog will feature longer essays, which speak to the more conceptual issues informing new paradigm spiritual communities, and aims to generate creative thinking around the ideas that can inform the creation and building of vibrant spiritual communities.
By Nati Passow 11 months ago, I posted a piece on the Jewish Farm School website about how we were choosing to embrace Shmita as an organization. You can read the entire piece here, but the final paragraph sums up the gist. We are using the Shmita year as an opportunity for fewer programmatic commitments, more organizational reflection, and a focus on building a strong local foundation in Philadelphia. It is our hope that in this year of rest and renewal, we are feeding the soil that will, in turn, feed thoughtful, inspired, and sustainable organizational growth for the next Shmita cycle. What played out over the following 11 months has proven to be incredibly significant as we enter into a new phase of organizational growth, in line with the beginning of the next Shmita cycle. Since 2013, we have been making an organizational pivot, turning our focus to our Urban Sustainability Programs in Philadelphia. We saw the Shmita year as an opportunity to complete this shift, and do so in a way that would create a strong foundation for this next phase of our work. We would not look to grow our programs or our budget, and would instead dedicate time […]
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Missing the 2014 Israel Ride?…Wondering what it would be like to join us on the 2015 Israel Ride? Read below for first hand accounts of day by day riding!